Cosmology, the earth and politicised territory in the Mahābhārata

November 2015February 2016
Summer Research Scholarship

This project aims to analyse the ways in which the Mahābhārata develops an arguably new conception of the ‘earth’, which is grounded in both cosmological ideas of space and geographically attuned conceptions of political territory. These conceptions are linked to the earth’s eschatological crisis realised in the Mahābhārata war, that gird imperatives for mythological and narrative depictions of monarchical rule over a conceptually unified ‘earth’, which is itself identified in approximate geographical terms with the region referred to as South Asia today.

This is arguably an innovative step in Sanskrit literature that reflected the emergence of ideas of South Asia as a cohesive cultural and political space that, nevertheless, stands in partial contrast to the known historical record, which indicates that South Asia in the period of the Mahābhārata’s composition was politically fractured. 

The Summer Research scholar’s duties will be to:

  1. pursue their own research in parallel with the above research project (e.g. posing similar questions in other literary contexts, such as the Rāmāyaṇa or some other Sanskrit text).
  2. act as a research assistant to Dr. Adam Bowles as required.


Some knowledge of Sanskrit, South Asian religions and South Asian history is required.


Project members

Associate Professor Adam Bowles

Associate Professor in Asian Religions, Deputy Head of School and SiR Discipline Convenor